Title: City Council Member Position 2
Company name: City of Richwood
Birthday: August 23, 1980
Family information: Daughter of Kent and Terri Bernhardt. Happily married to Josh Strawn for 21 years. We have three beautiful children (Emily, Megan and Tyler). In July, we will add a sonin-law to the family when our daughter, Emily, marries L.Cpl. Connor Baldwin.
What path led you to your chosen profession? Was it well-planned or a happy accident?: Neither, it was a calling to serve. I've been volunteering since I was a little girl. My mother calls it having a servant's heart. When I see a problem, I find a way to fix it. We moved to Richwood five years ago and began seeing serious infrastructure issues that needed attention. I knew it wouldn't be easy but I had to try. I was honored to be elected to City Council and am working hard to make Richwood a community we can all be proud to call home.
What volunteer or civic achievement is most important to you?: My passion is improving the lives of children in our community. I was a Girl Scout leader for 10 years with two different troops. Those girls and their families will forever hold a place in my heart. They are all growing up to be strong leaders and incredible young women. I hope that GS had a small part in helping them find their voice and passion for volunteering. My time on PTO at Roberts, Rasco and LJI gave me the opportunity to meet so many incredible people, build lifelong friendships and help with events kids still talk about years later. Along with many other amazing volunteers, we fundraised and stretched every penny so we could provide the students extra activities like Veterans Day programs, pumpkin nights, fall festivals, school dances, programs, new playground equipment, classroom supplies, scholarships, class parties, end of the year celebrations and so much more. My greatest volunteer achievement was to help children have fun and be kids in a world filled with so much uncertainty.
What career achievement are you most proud of?: I started my own photo booth business in 2011. Over the past nine years, I have been a part of countless celebrations and have been able to donate my services to many worthy causes.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?: Of everything I've done in my life, being the mom of three amazing kids brings me the most pride. They remind me every day that there is so much good in the world.
What are your career aspirations?: I plan to continue serving on City Council and volunteering my time to our community.
What leader has inspired you and how?: My mother, Terri Bernhardt, taught me at a young age that I can do anything I put my mind to. She laughs that I was a born leader, which I think actually meant extremely stubborn. She was my Girl Scout leader and supported my drive to earn my Gold Award. She was a Sunday School teacher, room mom, PTO president and served on Junior Service League. Volunteering with my mom shaped my life. I learned that if we all work together, we can accomplish anything. When I became a mother, I followed the example she set and hoped it would have the same impact on my children. It has. They have chosen to be in Student Council, National Honor Society, PALS and other leadership opportunities in their schools. They've surrounded themselves with friends who enjoy helping others, too. The tradition carries on.
What are three attributes that leader has that you admire?: Honesty, compassion and strength.
What is a quote or motto that you live by in your professional or personal life?: Leave things better than you found them.
What are your hobbies?: Photography, scrapbooking and sewing
What is a guilty pleasure others might be surprised to learn that you enjoy?: Carpool Karaoke with my kids. All three of my kids are in choir, so we love to sing anytime we get in the car. We jam out to everything from Disney songs to show tunes, county to rock. If you ever see us singing and dancing in the minivan like no one is looking, don't worry — we are making memories.
Favorites book, movie, TV show, music genre, sports team?:
Book: "Time for Bed" (yes, it's a children's book but it's my favorite)
Movie: "The Money Pit"
TV Show: "Friends" "NCIS"
Music genre/performer: Country music
Sports team: Saints, LSU and Astros
Any other information you would like to include?: As a stay at home mom for many years, I want to reach out to all the other stay at home moms (and dads) out there who volunteer their time and wonder if anyone notices or appreciates all you do. We see you. It's often a thankless job that comes with zero pay and long hours. We all have our calling in life. Follow your own path. Be proud of what you're doing. Enjoy the ride. You are enough.
Do you have a postsecondary education? For all undergraduate degrees, include the institution, degree, year graduated and major.: I graduated with my Associate of Arts degree from Brazosport College in 2003 while my husband was in Iraq and I was 7 months pregnant with my second daughter. When she graduates next year from BC with her associate's degree as a senior in High School, it will be her second time to cross that stage.